When we moved to Chateau Travolta in 2008, the housing market was on the verge of tanking. Then it tanked, and the For Sale signs started popping up like dandelions. Some of those houses took years to sell, which made me realize just how stupid it was to take on two mortgages at once when we sold This Old House to move here.
This week there are ladders all over my neighborhood, as the houses built in 1978 have begun to show their age. Shingles pushed well beyond their limits topple from roofs. The boards on the sides of houses are torn away and replaced. The aluminium ladders sparkle in the May sunshine.
As I jogged past a pile of boards pocked with bent nails, I started thinking about the kitchen remodel I've not blogged about. It's not that I'm not proud of it -- I am -- it's so pretty -- but I really only feel comfortable blogging home improvements we did with our own little hands, and though the demolition was difficult and Beloved has been moonlighting as a drywall installer, a plumber and an electrician for the past two months while I just took a crowbar and pried off floor tiles and anything else that pissed me off, for some reason, I just didn't want to blog about it because there were so many parts we paid someone else to do, and then for some reason that feels braggy in a way "look at the pocket door Beloved installed" doesn't. This may be justified only in my head. Or worrying about bragging in a Pinterest world may be ridiculous. Or I may be a huge hypocrite because I brag about my writing here (or at least that's what the About Me page feels like, but dude, I'm a professional writer, not a professional kitchen person). I'm conflicted, clearly.
Anyway, I was thinking about all that stuff while jogging by these piles of wood in my neighborhood and feeling so happy my neighbors were fixing up their houses instead of selling them. And feeling happy they had both the money and the desire to maintain their houses so they don't fall apart. And feeling happy and proud that we are taking care of Chateau Travolta and will leave it a better place than we found it. I wrote on BlogHer earlier this week about not toppling your blocks, and ever since then I've been really focused on how important it is to pay attention to your mind and body and environment and address problems right away, before they metastasize into something more.
Maybe it came from growing up in a house my father built perched on the edge of land my family farmed. I like taking root, propping up and staying on. I'm glad my neighbors do, too. There is beauty in that.